Movie Review: The End of a London Music era is incompletely revived for “Giddy Stratospheres”

The fin de siecle for London’s independent music scene showed up a little late, and seemed awfully retro as it passed from existence, at least in the version related in Laura Jean Marsh‘s too-brief, too-thinly-sketched parable “Giddy Stratospheres.”

A bunch of artsy-druggy and fashion-backward types boozed and snorted their way through a reprise of The End of Punk, which faded from favor almost 30 years before this 2007 tale is set.

This “Giddy” time had a dash of New Wave in its sound, fewer piercings and no razor blades, but lots more cocaine, just judging from this.

Marsh — a bit player with a decade in cinema behind her — wrote, directed and stars in this, playing a would-be artist and certified party pussycat — definitely over 30 — captured over a couple of days that spell “The end of all this” to her, at least.

Lara is near the end of her “pure denial on toast” age, according to her running mate, Daniel (Jamal Franklin). He can’t get her to talk about “last night,” about the guy she woke up with, how “wasted…off your face” she was, and what that says about her.

He’s quite fey and has had trouble with drugs and warnings about “that girl” from his worried mother. But heedlessly, the duo boards a train to dash off to the funeral of Lara’s granny. She’s to read a poem, something she can’t fob off on her New York artist-brother (Nick Helm) but something she’s not really up to performing.

She can’t remember to get them off at the right station, forgot to bring money, and only has it together in the context of the arch and Pythonesque “types” who comprise her family, the other mourners. Richard Herring plays her too-too-theatrical Dad, Charlotte Milchard‘s is Dad’s new wife, Fifi (Lara’s dizzy nemesis) and Charlotte Weston is her caring but indulgent Mum.

Flashbacks give us a whiff of the club life, bands that sound like the early ’80s (New Order was their god…apparently) and Lara’s disreputable crew.

It’s all winding down, and that’s what the movie shows us, “giddy” stoners carrying on until that “Trainspotting” moment when she sees the dead end.

There’s a heady sense of “vibe” here, old feuds, “friends” who aren’t dependable and rivals who aren’t dependably at odds.

It’s a little hard to make heads or tails out of, what with thick accents, the under-identified characters and their relationship to each other. The film needed more scenes, more background, more fizzy fun and more pathos for any of this to come off properly.

Marsh seems a trifle old for the part, which may be the point. But that’s the lure and the trap of a “scene,” isn’t it? You show up, very young, with the energy and ambition and talent to master your art, and the good times and the drugs and the “going out” and endless fear of missing out have friends remembering the “grant” you got to study art and see “what a waste” you’ve made of things.

I’m grading this class project/music history remembrance “incomplete.”

Rating: unrated, drug and alcohol abuse, profanity

Cast: Laura Lean Marsh, Jamal Franklin, Richard Herring, Charlotte Milchard and Charlotte Weston

Credits: Scripted and directed by Laura Jean Marsh. A Bulldog release.

Running time: 1:07

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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